I sometimes play a certain computer role-playing game (RPG). In this game, my character (whom I might name after myself but who does not otherwise resemble me) fights mythological creatures and collects handy items. In the end, I aim to have my character retrieve a powerful treasure from the place where it is kept.

If I choose, my character can choose to worship one of 18 available "gods". If my character kneels at an altar, prays to it, or sacrifices creatures, then the "god" I choose might give my character special abilities or better items.

My questions

  1. Can you cause a character to worship a "god" while playing such a computer game? If so, why?

  2. What if you modify the source code of the game and rename all the "gods" to "Hashem"?


Please ask your rabbi instead of trusting what you read here, for various reasons.


Possibly related, regarding idolatry:

Possibly related, regarding violence:

Other questions on ethics in video games:

Wikipedia has an article on religion and video games, but it doesn't yet discuss Judaism.

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    Note: I have already tried various Google searches, such as [ halacha computer | video game idol | deity | zara | zarah ]. None have helped. Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 20:26
  • 9
    Interesting question. Some related cases that may have rulings: violent video games, reading about idolatry, acting out idolatry in a play.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 20:34
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    @MonicaCellio: In the game, I do not play myself: I play a fictional character, such as a warrior or an archer. But when the game asks me to name the character, I might enter my real name: this makes the game assign a sensible filename to my saved game data file. Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 23:03
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    @sam, If you can point to a source that addresses violent games, that may indeed be very useful toward addressing this question. It seems to me, though, that one may distinguish between simulated killing and simulated worship. Given that worship is largely an act of the mind ("'avoda shebeleiv"), simulated worship could be considered to have a much stronger association with actual worship than simulated killing has with actual killing.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Apr 21, 2013 at 6:06
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    @MonicaCellio so we are distinguishing, say Diablo, from Second Life? Commented May 13, 2013 at 20:12

5 Answers 5


I asked my local Orthodox rabbi: the (Chareidi) morah d'asrah of a mid-sized Orthodox shul in a North American city of about three million people. He prefers that I not specify his name here. He told me:

  1. It's crucial not to let your character do anything in the game that smacks of idolatry, such as praying to the virtual "gods" in the game. Playing the game in general is like playing with fire. Perhaps the game was created by pagans.

  2. As for the second question: Don't bring Hashem into this.

  • 7
    Does this mean I need to cancel my weekly D&D group?
    – yoel
    Commented May 30, 2013 at 3:01
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    @yoel: I'd be intrigued to find out your rabbi's answer. It would be great if you could please create a separate question and attach his answer. Commented May 30, 2013 at 3:19
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    @yoel: A) Please see the answer to "I suspect I must do something, but don't want to. Must I check into the halacha?". Does it make sense here too? B) Also, mind to please upvote that question? :) Commented May 30, 2013 at 22:43
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    And if it is....can someone who plays these games be a shochet?
    – MTL
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 3:18
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    I'm sorry if it looked like I was attacking you ....but honestly, I find it very hard to believe that it would really be forbidden. ....then again, I've never played an RPG, so I can't claim to know how they work :P
    – MTL
    Commented Dec 21, 2014 at 3:59

A seemingly very similar question is posed by Rabbi Gil Student on his website https://www.torahmusings.com/2017/05/video-game-idolatry based on a version of the game Zelda. He goes through several sources and comes out permitting worship in this game based on an extrapolation from the permissability to study religious worship that is no longer actively worshipped. His reasoning is that the religious worship in the game never actually existed and is simply fantasy. He does caution that playing such games may lead one to be desensitized to the concept of idol worship but stops short of ruling prohibitively in the case under discussion.

Therefore in your case if the religions in the game are entirely fabricated and it would appear that you may have your character worship them as necessary and there is no need to rename them "Hashem" (in fact I can think of several reasons why you should not do that.

None of what I have said above should be taken as a practical halachic psak. Please CYLOR for that.

  1. I don't think that counts as idol worship. Now, I guess one could say that doing such an act would be considered hana'ah because you derive benefit (in the video game) from performing such an act. However, role playing on a computer or even a board game never pops up in any literature that I have read that claims that the player is committing idol worship.
  • 1
    Could you clarify what you've read? (I mean, this answer coming from someone who is well-versed in all the rabbinic responsa written in the past hundred years is very different from this answer coming from someone whose reading has been limited to Wikipedia.)
    – msh210
    Commented May 13, 2013 at 21:14
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    @msh210 And both are different still from someone who is well versed in rabbinic responsa only predating the advent of electricity and early means of remote/virtual communication that might possibly be relevant (eg., perhaps there is some source somewhere since 1844 that equates the telephone to an echo (or not) and thus permits (or prohibits) someone from listening to a Church service by phone). (Added to strengthen your challenge.)
    – Seth J
    Commented May 13, 2013 at 21:55
  • I'm talking about in context of games. My depth into Jewish literature isn't all that fantastic (seeing as my Hebrew is only so good, so a lot of what I read is only in English); however, I've never seen anyone equate something you do in a game (video game, board game, children's game, et cetera) as a sin.
    – rosen
    Commented May 14, 2013 at 14:24
  • But the God in the video game is real (within game). I mean they give you real stats which you can verify.
    – user4951
    Commented Sep 23, 2013 at 10:42
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    So jews cannot play chess because you kill the oponent's pieces? remember thou shall not kill
    – Ess Kay
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 18:38

Is one permitted to draw a picture of a non-Jew worshiping an idol? Computer images are no more than enhanced pictures. The "actions" of the images are merely a change of the image. So, I would think there's no problem as far as actual idol worship goes. However, the claim that one should refrain from "playing games" of idol worship is definitely a valid one, and thus I would agree with that Rav's advice.


Since you are not actually performing idol worship, as it is only simulated in a role playing game, you are not breaking any commandments (unless your gameplay extends into Shabbat).

Essentially, you are not an actor. You are merely controlling electrons inside a computer box. The electrons feed into a program and spit a visual and audio calculation into your screen and speakers. In a technicality, there is no idol worship performed there. Since TVs were not around in the times of the Sanhedrin, there is no rabbinical law against it. And ultimately, a computer simulation cannot be compared to an act of a human. Otherwise, games with murder would also be forbidden for Jews to play.

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    This is what intuition says, but this answer would be more valuable with a source or more support. For example, aren't there actors who are careful not to say and do certain things, in the course of their work, even though they're playing a role? Are they being stringent or is there relevant halacha, and if the latter, does it apply to games too? Commented May 14, 2013 at 14:25
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    Your point about games with murder is a good one and would be worth adding to your answer. Commented Jun 9, 2013 at 2:59
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    However, murder needs an actual human to kill whereas Avoda Zara could be accomplished by worshiping an invisible foreign god.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 10, 2013 at 13:24
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    So in age of empire I can order my peasants to eat pigs and elephants?
    – user4951
    Commented Sep 23, 2013 at 10:42
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    as long as you do not cook them in their mother's milk
    – Ess Kay
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 18:39

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